(St.Joseph,MO) The St. Joseph City Council is on a mission to eliminate blighted and vacant properties around town. At a work session Thursday the council met with the Planning and Community Development Department to discuss three new ordinances surrounding property maintenance.
The council will consider an ordinance increasing fines for property maintenance violations. The ordinance would increase first time fines from $25 to $100, and increase incrementally to $200 for second offenses, $300 for third offenses and $450 for fourth offenses.
“We’ve been living under a very minimal amount that people have had to pay for violation, and now they are going to increase it. Hopefully this will open some people’s eyes and make the city better able to assess a fine for their [the property owner] violations,”City Councilman Russell Moore said.
The council also discussed creating a vacant property registry, which would require all landlords of vacant buildings pay $200 annually to maintain a vacant property within the city.
As city staff continue to track vacant properties through the Building Blocks software, Planning and Community Development Director Clint Thompson recommended the council consider providing additional funding for the task.
To make the evaluation of vacant properties more efficient, the council will consider allocating $100,000 from the Landfill fund to help the city staff with demolition and rehabilitation costs.
“Nobody wants to demolish property. We want to rehab it if we can, but in some cases after several years have gone by, when the roof has caved in and it just can’t be brought back to life, then we are going to have to find a way to do something with it,”Moore said.
The council also discussed creating an exploratory committee to research funding and groundwork needed to create a land bank for the city.
The city council will have the first reading of each ordinance on December 3 and will search for prospective members of the exploratory committee in the coming weeks.